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Do You Need a Finalized Test Score Before You Hire an MBA Admissions Consultant?

by Vantage Point MBA, Mar 13, 2024

We love this time of year because we get to speak with a ton of prospective MBAs. A common question we hear is something to the effect of, “I’m planning to retake the GMAT or GRE, should I wait until I finalize my score before I hire an MBA admissions consultant?”

We get it, tackling one thing at a time seems like a natural strategy. However, in our experience, that sequential approach is often not in the applicant’s best interest. There are three key reasons why partnering with an MBA admissions consultant early, even before you have finalized your test scores, is often ideal.

True Soul Searching and Thought Partnership Take Time
Applicants frequently underestimate the soul searching required to develop a cohesive, compelling, and differentiated story they are passionate about. It can easily take several months (or more) of concerted work with an MBA admissions consultant to uncover your unique value proposition, address weaknesses in your profile, and hone your career goals.

Further, applying to at least three to six top MBA programs, which most applicants do, is a lot of work! It can be easy to underestimate the total time it will take to iterate your resume, recommender materials, essays, and application forms. To put your absolute best foot forward, leave time for multiple rounds of feedback (10-15+ versions of essays is common) from the MBA admissions consultant who has become an expert in your candidacy.

Make the Most of Your Time and Money
Let’s be honest – hiring an MBA admissions consultant is a significant investment. If you work with your consultant comprehensively, the price stays the same whether you get started six months before your deadlines or three. So why not dig in as early as possible and spend the greatest number of hours collaborating?

You may not be able to nail down your list of target schools now, but unless you think there is a significant chance you aren’t going to apply at all if your score is weak, you should make the most of this time. Refine your story and goals, strategize about supplementing your existing leadership roles and accomplishments, and start perfecting your resume and recommender materials. Most of these elements don’t change a whole lot depending on your targeted programs.

Further, by getting started early, you leave yourself a cushion in case life gets unexpectedly busy. Applicants often realize they don’t have as much time as they thought given spring graduations, weddings, summer vacation plans and unforeseen work demands. Pace yourself while there are fewer demands on the time of all parties involved.

The Testing Process Often Drags On
You may feel confident right now that you are only going to take the exam one more time before you hire an MBA admissions consultant, but best laid plans often go awry. For reasons spanning from test anxiety to the change in format to the new GMAT Focus Edition, a notable percentage of our clients end up taking the exam(s) three to four times.

Ultimately, the test score is an important but relatively small piece of the overall application. So, it’s not sensible to spend, for example, 75% of your time on improving test scores and only 25% on all the other elements of your application combined. The “other” elements of your process are often far more within your control. So, consider reversing that approach and allotting 25% of your time to test score optimization and 75% to the remaining elements.

A strong MBA admissions consultant is accustomed to helping applicants adjust course as elements of their candidacy change. So, if your GMAT or GRE score ends up diverging from what you originally planned, don’t fret! You will already have a strong relationship with a knowledgeable thought partner to help you review and update your list of target schools.

Each applicant’s circumstances are unique, so we welcome the chance to discuss your individual profile and timeline during an initial 30-minute consultation.